by Xinhua writers Wang Jiaquan, Lan Xi and Tan Haoxuan
BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Wang Yu seems to be proud of her peony paintings, but there's no hint of pride on her face when she asks her visitors for comments.
She even keeps calm, or, more exactly, expressionless, when the visitors wow at a scroll of the large, showy pink blossoms she has painted.
That was done more than a year ago, and her new painting interest now is chrysanthemums, or mum in short.
However, Wang continues with the query "are my peonies beautiful?" as she stares at the painting paper that is full of yellow mum sketches.
"Yes, they are beautiful, but we have to finish our mum's petals and leaves today. Alright?" her teacher Jia Lixian says, hoping to divert her student's attention toward the flowers they are painting.
Then Wang begins to follow Jia's suit as the teacher shows her how to control the brush strokes. That is a moment when her eyes reflect the earnest rays of a child.
The 30-something woman is among a group of unusual learners of traditional Chinese painting, who are learning the skill as part of a rehabilitation therapy at a Beijing hospital for mental disorder sufferers.
The program established at Beijing's Pingan Hospital in 2011 is maintained by a local group of senior citizens who offer training in painting, dancing, music and handicraft.
The 63-year-old Jia teaches painting, a skill she learned at a community college for senior citizens, while her husband Tian Guohua serves as head of the volunteer group.
Jia and Tian decided to create the program after their mentally ill son died three years ago. After experiencing the difficulty of raising a son with a mental disorder, they decided to create the program to help other patients and their families.
Their idea was welcomed by the hospital, which has more than 140 patients with mental disorders.
Hospital manger Li Shuo says social participation is necessary to ensure the success of the patients' recovery, especially for the restoration of their social skills, such as interpersonal communication.
However, not everybody is fit to work with such patients, Li says. The hospital's management decided to permit Tian's group to volunteer because they believed the group's diverse skill set would aid in the recovery process.
Tian's volunteer group is composed of more than 30 members, most of whom are over the age of 60.